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News DigestTransportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Distracted Driving Summit

News Digest

DOT 114-08
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Contact: Sasha Johnson, Tel: 202-366-5037

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Distracted Driving Summit

Washington, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a September summit to address the dangers of text-messaging and other distractions behind the wheel. In late September, senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives and academics will convene in Washington, DC to discuss ideas about how to combat distracted driving.

“If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren’t always enough,” said Sec. LaHood. “We’ve learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy combining education and enforcement to get results. That’s why this meeting with experienced officials, experts and law enforcement will be such a crucial first step in our efforts to put an end to distracted driving.”

A number of deadly accidents involving text messaging behind the wheel have called attention to the dangerous problem of distracted driving. Last year, a commuter train crash in California involving an operator who was texting on a cell phone killed 25 people and injured 135 others. In another incident, a Florida truck driver admitted to texting moments before a collision with a school bus that killed a student. In yet another, only a few weeks ago, a 17-year-old high school student from Peoria, Illinois was killed when she drove off the road while texting with friends.

Added Secretary LaHood, “The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving.  Following next month’s summit, I plan to announce a list of concrete steps we will take to make drivers think twice about taking their eyes off the road for any reason.”

For information and updates on next month’s summit on distracted driving, visit: http://www.rita.dot.gov/distracted_driving_summit/.